Unit 5 - Enquiry-based learning and project work

Session 5.4 - Collecting and interpreting information: Part two

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Learning intentions and objectives.
In this session you will learn about:

  • making predictions during enquiries
  • dealing with unexpected outcomes
  • similarities between the scientific method and enquiry based learning
  • collecting accurate and reliable data
  • preparing for an enquiry-based learning session through a series of lessons and a ‘project day’ or ‘field trip’ for maths or science classes

Success criteria.
To meet the learning intentions you will:

  • watch a video sequence as a stimulus for discussion on encouraging students to make predictions during enquiries
  • watch a video sequence of students recording data and discuss the level of guidance provided by the teacher
  • do an activity to correctly organise the steps in the scientific method

ICT components.
The ICT components you will focus on are

  • GeoGebra, perimeter and area.

Also, as in the previous session, you will continue to apply the ICT skills you have learnt so far for EBL, and to think about how they help you implement EBL in the classroom.

Resources needed.

Resources needed for this session:

  • Computer/laptop/netbook and the Internet.

1 Review of follow-up activities from last session

Activity icon.png Small group activity (20 min). Get into your small group of last week’s ‘making use of enquiry ideas A-E’ activity to discuss your homework tasks.

Part A: (5 mins) You were asked to try out a mini-GeoGebra enquiry lesson in your class. Discuss in your small groups the following questions:

  • How did your students respond to the open nature of this task?
  • Did you feel confident with teaching using GeoGebra? Why or why not?
  • What other observations can you make that will help you evaluate the use of GeoGebra?

Part B: (15 mins) Invite colleagues to share how their extended enquiry-based learning (EBL) lessons are going. They could do this by giving PMIs of at least two of the following considerations of a successful EBL lesson:

  • Nature of enquiry tasks (e.g. are they open-ended enough so that students could also take some responsibility to research and find ways to investigate different enquiry ideas, rather than just producing an answer or a solution?).
  • Students’ involvement in framing enquiry tasks and questions (e.g. can you persuade students to ask more questions without feeling shy or stupid?).
  • Students’ engagement and competence in conducting an experiment, searching for information or resources themselves.
  • Students’ engagement and competence in interpreting the information or data themselves.
  • Teacher’s role as a guide and co-learner with the students.
  • Availability and accessibility of resources (e.g. Internet).

2 More on making predictions

Recall from the previous session that:

  • a hypothesis is an explanation of why something is happening (or will happen) and so is a good starting point for investigation/argument/further observations/tests
  • a prediction is a statement of what you think will happen before it does so

and that it is possible to make a prediction based on a hypothesis or without a hypothesis.

We know that encouraging students to make predictions about the outcomes of their enquiries allows them to exercise higher order thinking skills as they must think about the many possibilities that might occur/exist.

Activity icon.png Whole class dialogue (15 min) on making predictions.

  • What other positive consequences could there be of students predicting the outcomes of their enquires?
  • What are the potential drawbacks of encouraging students to make predictions?

Here are some video clips of students working on making predictions for the outcome of an enquiry that they will soon do. Watch a few of them now (begin watching the first one from 1:34) and the rest in your own time after the session. Notice how motivated the students are and how they support and encourage each other. Think about the following questions and discuss them as a group if you have time:

  • What do you think the teachers role is during this stage of the enquiry process?
  • How could you ensure that all students are actively involved in making predictions?
  • What strategies could you have in place to make sure that any misconceptions uncovered at this stage would be picked up and dealt with?


Observation of small group completing lung capacity worksheet together

Small group working together to discuss and complete lung capacity worksheet

Video/Aggie Fitness A06.m4v, http://mws-93306.mws3.csx.cam.ac.uk/wiki/Video/Aggie_Fitness_A06.m4v,This video is available on your memory stick in the video/Aggie Fitness folder.About this video. Duration: 4:35 (watch on YouTube, local play / download options / download from dropbox) (Video filmed in 2012, at CBS.)(Series: Aggie Fitness, episode 06)


Small group discusses how to measure lung capacity displacement

Small group working together to guess lung capacity displacement

Video/Aggie Fitness A07.m4v, http://mws-93306.mws3.csx.cam.ac.uk/wiki/Video/Aggie_Fitness_A07.m4v,This video is available on your memory stick in the video/Aggie Fitness folder.About this video. Duration: 1:48 (watch on YouTube, local play / download options / download from dropbox) (Video filmed in 2012, at CBS.)(Series: Aggie Fitness, episode 07)


Group revises original estimates of lung capacity

Small group decides to adjust their guesses on lung capacity

Video/Aggie Fitness A08.m4v, http://mws-93306.mws3.csx.cam.ac.uk/wiki/Video/Aggie_Fitness_A08.m4v,This video is available on your memory stick in the video/Aggie Fitness folder.About this video. Duration: 0:51 (watch on YouTube, local play / download options / download from dropbox) (Video filmed in 2012, at CBS.)(Series: Aggie Fitness, episode 08)


Small group discusses how many millilitres are in a litre

Small group discussion on how many millilitres make up a litre

Video/Aggie Fitness A09.m4v, http://mws-93306.mws3.csx.cam.ac.uk/wiki/Video/Aggie_Fitness_A09.m4v,This video is available on your memory stick in the video/Aggie Fitness folder.About this video. Duration: 2:36 (watch on YouTube, local play / download options / download from dropbox) (Video filmed in 2012, at CBS.)(Series: Aggie Fitness, episode 09)

3 The scientific method

Activity icon.png Same-task group work (10 min) on collecting and interpreting data. Having collected your data in the previous session you should now be ready to analyse or find solutions to respond to appropriately during the enquiry.

Students often enjoy collecting data but are more reluctant when it comes to analysing it; they are not always sure where to begin.

Where should you begin and how will you proceed with this section of the enquiry?


The following are the steps in the scientific method as usually followed in many scientific investigations and enquiries. They are not in the right order. Working in small groups, arrange the steps in the right order by putting the numbers 1-8 next to them.

  • Data is analysed.
  • The investigation is done (using whatever equipment/materials you have chosen) and data is collected.
  • A hypothesis is formed - this is usually a best guess based on what’s already known.
  • Results are communicated.
  • A question or a problem is posed.
  • Conclusions are reached.
  • Research is done to find out what is already known about the topic.
  • A very detailed step-by-step experimental procedure is designed to test the hypothesis – this is the scientific enquiry or investigation and must take into account all variables affecting the experiment.

You should observe that the steps are very similar to the EBL steps. The steps in italics should be a particularly helpful reminder to what enquiry activities you have carried out, in the context of a scientific investigation method.

Related resources

This interactive audio visual resource from iSchool will help you present the scientific method to your students in an interesting and fun way. It takes the students through an experiment on water vapour, highlighting the steps in the scientific method. You may wish to design an enquiry based learning task around measuring evaporation - you might be surprised at some of the suggestions your students come up with on how to do it; maybe one of them will come up with the idea of using a plastic bag like in the video.

Click on the link to go straight to the video: http://ischool.zm/marketinglessons/Grade%206/1061006/index.html

Water vapour.png

4 Data handling - drawing graphs

Activity icon.png Whole class dialogue (15 min) on data handling videos. The following sequence of videos shows a South African teacher preparing her students to draw a graph of some data and offers some insight into what can go wrong when students are working independently on data handling.


Helping a learner with questioning

Pindi examines one of the learners pieces of work. The learner has produced a graph that is two small, so Pindi asks questions to help. A small supporting handout is given with the questions on

Video/Pindi Graphs3-10.mp4, http://mws-93306.mws3.csx.cam.ac.uk/wiki/Video/Pindi_Graphs3-10.mp4,This video is available on your memory stick in the video/Graphs folder.About this video. Duration: 00:37 (watch on YouTube, local play / download options / download from dropbox) Video produced in conjunction with AIMSSEC.(Series: Graphs, episode 06)

The teacher reminds the students of work they had done on this enquiry in a previous lesson. She has planned for them to do quite a lot of graph drawing as part of this enquiry on exponentials.

  • Why does the teacher remind the students of what they had done previously?
  • What are the benefits to the students of the teacher drawing the table on the chalk board?
  • Do you think it was a good idea to leave the table blank? Why?


Addressing incorrect work

Pindi has stopped the class to quickly address the problem she saw where learners had produced graphs that did not fit correctly on the paper. Learners are encouraged to share ideas and then make alterations

Video/Pindi Graphs3-12.mp4, http://mws-93306.mws3.csx.cam.ac.uk/wiki/Video/Pindi_Graphs3-12.mp4,This video is available on your memory stick in the video/Graphs folder.About this video. Duration: 00:45 (watch on YouTube, local play / download options / download from dropbox) Video produced in conjunction with AIMSSEC.(Series: Graphs, episode 07)

One of the things that teachers worry about when doing enquiry based activities in the classroom is the unpredictable nature of the work that students may produce. Watch the following video and discuss the ways that you might react when a student produces an interesting but unexpected graph.


Learner’s graph not quite right

A learner has finished plotting points on their graph and has managed to fit them to the page neatly, however the graph does not quite look correct.

Video/Pindi Graphs3-8a.mp4, http://mws-93306.mws3.csx.cam.ac.uk/wiki/Video/Pindi_Graphs3-8a.mp4,This video is available on your memory stick in the video/Graphs folder.About this video. Duration: 00:33 (watch on YouTube, local play / download options / download from dropbox) Video produced in conjunction with AIMSSEC.(Series: Graphs, episode 05)

Activity icon.png Same-task group work (10 min) on recording meaningful results. Students will often need a lot of guidance if they are to record meaningful results. Have a look at the following student worksheet and discuss in your groups the level of guidance that a student may require when completing such a sheet.

Consider the following:

  • How might the worksheet be improved?
  • Is there any other information that you think should be on the sheet that currently is not?
  • What background work would you aim to cover before expecting students to be able to complete the worksheet?

If you have time, draw up a new improved worksheet in your group and share it with members of other groups.


Activity icon.png Same-task group work (15 min) on analysing data.

Before you carry on to analyse the data that you collected during the last session, discuss these questions with the other members of your group:

  1. What is your ‘best guess’ at this point in time? Why?
  2. How do you know that you can ‘trust’ the data that has been collected? Why?
  3. What is the best way to make sense of the data so that you are able to find some solutions to the enquiry?
  4. Thinking back to the videos in the previous session of the students measuring their height, how might inaccurate results affect their BMI calculation/hypothesis/conclusion?

Make a start on analysing your data in this session. Between this session and the next, continue to analyse your data and be ready to present your findings to your colleagues during the next session You should arrange a time to get together with the other members of your group or alternatively divide up the tasks relating to the analysis and presentation between you now. You will also have a short time to finalise your presentation at the beginning of the next session.

Background reading

Is your data reliable?

The analysis of the data involves responding to the questions above. These questions help you evaluate your guesses, and assess whether the data collected is valid (i.e. whether it can actually answer the enquiry questions) or reliable (i.e. whether the data comes from a rigorous and trustworthy method of data collection cf. the discrepancies in measuring height highlighted in the videos). If you do not think the data fulfils the qualities of validity and reliability, then you should immediately highlight the problem and try to find out why this could have happened. It may be that you need to rethink or repeat the data collection process. If you are satisfied with the data collected, you can then go ahead to make sense of the data so that you are able to present a solution, or different solutions, to the rest of the participants next week.

Remember, to ensure that the data collected is reliable. It may be necessary to repeat the experiment a number of times. Averages can then be calculated if further processing is needed - for example in the paper airplane enquiry. To ensure that the data is valid, make sure to consider all the possible variables and which ones to control.

5 ICT practice: Making use of ICT in enquiry-based learning

Activity icon.png Different-tasks group work (20 min) with ICT for EBL. You now have acquired a large range of ICT skills (images, slideshows, the browser, GeoGebra, spreadsheets, Etherpad for collaborative writing, concept mapping, online simulations, typing). You've also had the opportunity to deepen your knowledge and skills within one particular application. We now turn towards using these applications for EBL.

Think about all the applications you have encountered. How can you use those applications in EBL? Think about the concrete projects that you have developed with these applications and consider:

  1. the level of enquiry they promote
  2. ways of extending/differentiating the level of enquiry
  3. how user friendly is it for yourself and students
  4. how engaging will it be for the students
  5. the relevance to your teaching subjects or curriculum in general

Continue to develop some new activities for classroom use, bearing in mind the above list. Develop detailed activity plans and share and test your ideas with other participants. As always, try those activities in the classroom.

6 Connecting with overarching goals of the programme

Activity icon.png Open space (10 min). It's now time for the "open space", that gives you an opportunity to discuss issues that have arisen, and to relate those to the broader context of the programme. Do not just gloss over this section, but make time to raise issues, and probe the progress that you are making. You could use this space to:

  • Remind yourselves of the of the Most Significant Change Technique, and e.g. collect more of your stories.
  • Discuss your assessment portfolios: Is there anything that you are unsure about? Is it going well? What could be done better?
  • Check on the work with the classroom assistants: Is this going well? Are there any tensions? Any observations or tips you can share?
  • Reviewing individual ICT practise (such as typing practise).
  • If you are preparing a presentation for other teachers, you could work on the presentation (about what you have been learning, stories emerging from MSC).
  • Remind those who are doing audio diaries, to upload them.
  • You could discuss any other issues that have arisen.

You will find notes and summaries of various techniques and concepts on our reference page, and you might want to refer to those for clarification during this activity if needed.

7 Follow-up activities

Activity icon.png Agreeing follow-up activities (5 min).

Part A Tidy up and make sense of the data for the group enquiry activities you have worked on in this session. Decide on what would be the best way to present your ideas (e.g. charts, OpenOffice presentation) and be ready to present them at the next session.

Part B Carry out Stage 1 of your ‘project day’ or ‘field trip’. You could do this across a couple of lessons (or the longer sessions which we have arranged for in the timetable), or by setting half a day aside for this.